July 19, 1999
Honorable George W. Bush
Bush for President Campaign
301 Congress Ave. Suite 200
Austin, TX 78701
I'm writing to request a list of the names, addresses, occupations and business affiliations of your fundraising "Pioneers."
Media outlets have reported that your campaign has recruited 150 to 250 Pioneers, who each pledged to bundle together for you at least 100 checks worth $1,000 apiece. This relatively small group of individuals has pledged to deliver an astonishing $15 million to $25 million toward your effort to reach the White House.
The average American is not in a position to raise $100,000 for a political campaign. Indeed, the limited number of Bush Pioneers who have been identified by the media comprise a who's who of the nation's powerful business and lobby elite. Many of these people have keen interests in the outcome of federal policies.
The public expects--and is entitled to--full disclosure of all private financing of public elections in the United States. Currently, your Pioneer fundraising structure falls short of full disclosure. To date, your campaign has cloaked the identities of the individuals who have pledged to become your political creditors by bundling together and delivering to you some $25 million.
Some journalists also have reported that each Pioneer has a secret identification number. Pioneers reportedly instruct the donors whom they recruit to note that secret code number on their checks so that your campaign can credit the money to the proper Pioneer. If these reports are true, your campaign has set up a sophisticated bundling scheme that effectively transforms each Pioneer into a $100,000 “donor” to your campaign.
The coordinated use of money-bundling Pioneers to amass such large sums
of money evades the spirit of the Federal Election Campaign Act as amended
in the wake of the Watergate scandals. Those scandals centered around the
1972 Nixon campaign's acceptance of secret contributions of $100,000 and
more from corporations and interest groups with vested interests in the
outcome of federal policies.
Post-Watergate reforms placed a $1,000 limit on the size of individual contributions to federal candidates. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld these limits when it ruled that large contributions can result in the appearance or the reality of political corruption. Secretive money bundling and the rejection of voluntary campaign spending limits will only take this country back toward those Watergate days at a time when we should be embracing cleaner elections.
To provide the campaign finance transparency that is the right of all Americans, we are asking you to identify the names, occupations and business affiliations of all of your Pioneers. If these are individuals who do not expect political favoritism in return for the millions of dollars they have pledged to raise, then there should be no objection to full and immediate disclosure.
I encourage you to seize the opportunity to implement your stated support
for complete campaign finance disclosure by meeting the public's right
to know the identities of your Pioneers.
Director, Texans for Public Justice